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Chinese internet giant Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) have announced a strategic partnership to develop extended reality (XR) technology and metaverse infrastructures. The announcement was made on Friday, with both companies citing the potential for generative AI as a key area of their collaboration.
The partnership will involve the integration of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform into Baidu’s XiRang metaverse platform. This move is expected to expedite the development of XR applications, enabling faster delivery of services across various sectors such as tourism, education, and sports.
Qualcomm’s global SVP, Cheng Lixin, expressed optimism about the collaboration, stating that it would catalyze the growth of the metaverse in China. However, this announcement comes at a time when interest in the metaverse and extended reality has seen a decline, with generative AI applications gaining more attention.
Notably, Meta (formerly Facebook (NASDAQ:META)), which rebranded in 2021 to emphasize its commitment to building a metaverse, shifted its focus towards AI during a March earnings call. Despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s earlier assertions about the metaverse being a “high-priority growth area”, he later emphasized that “advancing AI” was now the company’s “single largest investment”.
Venture financing deals in VR and AR, which constitute key components of the metaverse, have also seen a slowdown in 2023. According to GlobalData’s deal database, these deals amounted to $521m as of September 15, 2023. This figure represents a significant decrease from the previous year when VR and AR financing deals reached $1.6bn.
Baidu’s partnership with Qualcomm isn’t its first foray into collaborative efforts aimed at advancing technology. In 2017, Baidu and Qualcomm announced an initiative to optimize Baidu’s DuerOS conversational AI system for smartphones on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform. Additionally, Baidu has been collaborating with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) since 2020 on projects involving AI, 5G, data center, and cloud computing infrastructure.
The partnership between Baidu and Qualcomm underscores a strategic shift towards the development of AI technologies and the metaverse. However, it remains to be seen how this collaboration will navigate the changing tides of technological interest and investment.